Modi’s letter to Imran is worth studying — is it based on sincerity or some kind of trap?

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Salahuddin Haider

A sudden and strange development took place this Tuesday, March 23, when Indian prime minister NiennderModi sent a letter of goodwill to his Pakistani counterpart and to the people of a country which he had been treating with disdain.

But the communication was both stunning and unusual. Modi’s intentions, need to be analysed carefully and with utmost caution.

He first sent a message wishing Imran Khan quick recovery from Corona, but to many an expert, this was normal courtesy.

However the message of felicitation on Pakistan day of March 23, was important. What prompted him do that is a crucial question, answer to which is not easy to find.

Pakistani Prime Minister’s vision of Risate Madina where not only equity and justice prevail, but as his recently launched ‘Koi bhooka na soye’ (no one in the country should be without food) scheme, shows his understanding that inherent security revolves around different aspects of ‘human security’. It is an awareness that has come to be shared by others in powerful offices.

In the pursuit of his principles he had waved an olive branch to India, assuring him that one step forward from him for good neighbourly relations, will be answered by two steps forward to achieving that laudable objective. But then his offer went unheeded. Why all of a sudden this change now?

In this context, Pakistan initiated a comprehensive dialogue to inform the world about its honest intentions and simultaneously create major countries that India, in league with Israel, were trying to destroy that laudable objective, which need to be checked by States that counted, particularly the permanent members of the security council.

Unfortunately, such desire has remained devoid of world attention, the reason being Western States hunger for money which quickly is forthcoming from India being a mass market for their products.

Resultantly, Palestine and Kashmir, where human rights are trampled with impunity, have been the principal victims, and for no rhyme or reason. A change of heart is now required globally, which Islamabad is attempting persistently.

Countries big or small, sending their representatives to Pakistan to attach importance to civilian and military leadership because of their close cooperation for the world peace and for welfare of its own people.

The Islamabad Security Dialogue, held last week, was a renewed attempt to awaken the world from slumber.

It was a great start – having conversations on issues that matter internally – the understanding that human security is essential for a strong, unified country – especially one subject to fifth-generation hybrid warfare – is a concept that was alien to the elite captured power rulers who governed the country earlier.

Like the British PM Margaret Thatcher, who changed the whole political and economic landscape of the United Kingdom by the time she left power.

There is now a complete consensus amongst the country’s institutions that economic and human welfare and peace are at the core of any national security,

The Dialogue, to define the country’s new strategic direction in line with the prime minister’s vision of peace, regional connectivity and development partnerships with the world.

It was in line with the increasing number of such get-togethers held across the world, from the Aspen Security Forum in the USA, Shangri – La conference in Singapore, considered to be Asia’s premier defence summit, and even the Raisina conference in India which started in 2016; the aim of all to discuss key national and international security issues of the day.

The stated aim of the Dialogue was powerfully expressed by the organizer and Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning Dr. Moeed Yusuf as “We have been treated unfairly over the years, especially by the foreign media that paints Pakistan in a negative light; that’s an area that’s our responsibility to address”, said SAPM, adding that Pakistan needs a coherent narrative to promote its factual reality to the world.

Articulating it further, PM in his address to inaugurate the conference, stressed that it is vital to understand that the concept of national security needs to be more comprehensive, covering a broad range of areas and not just restricted to defense.

“National security is also about non-traditional issues like climate change and food security which threaten Pakistan and its overall security,” said the premier.

He spoke at length about these challenges and said that solving these issues would be the country’s top priority.

The speech by army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, was enlightening. He touched upon several points, Pakistan’s vital geostrategic location, regional connectivity, and seeing Pakistan outside the CPEC prism.

He presented four clear points necessary for Pakistan to enhance its national security and it was clear he believed that economic strength was crucial for all fronts.

However, it was his comments on India and ‘Pakistan putting its house in order’ that had social media buzzing.

When talking about Pakistan’s relations with India, he said that it’s about time that both India and Pakistan bury the past and move on.

Though, he added that for the resumption of the peace process or meaningful dialogue, India would have to create a conducive environment, particularly in Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir.

He stated that Pakistan understood it was important to put its ‘house in order’, and having overcome the menace of terrorism, it was now working towards sustainable development and improving the economic conditions of under-developed areas.

However, his point on the latter issue sparked a lively debate on social media questioning what was different about these comments and those spoken by ex-PM Nawaz Sharif during the Dawn Leaks.

Causing fewer sparks was the ever-smooth Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who highlighted Pakistan’s desire to steer clear from participating in geopolitical competition and rivalries, and instead opt for “co-existence and win-win.

The Islamabad Security Dialogue was a great start – having conversations on issues that matter internally – the understanding that human security is essential for a strong, unified country – especially one subject to fifth-generation hybrid warfare – is a concept that was alien to the elite captured power rulers who governed the country earlier.

Like the British PM Margaret Thatcher, who changed the whole political and economic landscape of the United Kingdom by the time she left power.

There is now a complete consensus amongst the country’s institutions that economic and human welfare and peace are at the core of any national security.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has set this wider human security agenda on the Pakistani landscape. It is a concept that will now remain whoever comes to power.

These conversations should continue and need to be openly debated without political acrimony.

Whether this means that for a national consensus a grand national debate needs to be ignited is another question.